Summary: After a threat from the tiger Shere Khan forces him to flee the jungle, a man-cub named Mowgli embarks on a journey of self discovery with the help of panther, Bagheera, and free spirited bear, Baloo.
Director: Jon Favreau
Writers: Justin Marks (screenplay), Rudyard Kipling (book)
Stars: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, and plenty freaking more.
A round of applause for one of the most beautiful movies of 2016 everybody! Jon Favreau nails the adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s novel The Jungle Book with one of the most beautiful and emotional cinematic masterpiece out there. If you thought CGI effects would never be able to reproduce life-life creations for another decade, then think again. While there are plenty of movies that are extremely heavy and massively reliant on CGI effects to remain relevant and strong in the box office, this movie doesn’t just get it right for the eyes. Bringing the animals to life and having Neel Sethi (Mowgli) interact with them as if they were actually real made this adventure undoubtedly memorable. I swear. I had to wonder if some of these animals were real, cause I would definitely love to have young wolves that cute yapping at me with so much joy. Although, it would be a serious competition if you’d put Baloo up against the grizzly in The Revenant. But hey, we all know who we’d be cheering for though!
The Jungle Book is one of those stories that we all know about, especially because of that amazing animated musical comedy back in 1967. As old as it is, those characters and those songs have always marked our childhoods (at least for me). The wise black panther Bagheera and the goofy Baloo teaching the young man-cub Mowgli various lessons of life until the big bad Shere Khan wants a piece of Mowgli for breakfast, lunch and supper. What Jon Favreau does to bring this story to life in a live-action adaptation is beyond admirable. His cinematic direction and brilliant casting has given us all the opportunity to watch one of the most endearing tales of self-discovery. Mowgli’s adventure takes us all on a wild ride through the depths of the jungle and the edges of humanity. The Jungle Book successfully captures the hearts of fans and unveils the primal wisdom that hides among animals. Topped off by a talented cast of voice actors, this movie demands to be seen by absolutely everyone and is sure to make feel uplifted by the experience.
News of a sequel is already confirmed and faith in Jon Favreau in making The Jungle Book 2 a success is far from being a stretch.
What a ride. The Jungle Book delivers everything that a fan could want from a live-action adaptation. Neel Sethi sounds and acts like Mowgli. The animals are all so lively and life-life. The jungle feels and breathes like one. It’s hard to even believe that there was barely any major flaws in this movie. The environment alone should be given an award if it was a person. Actually, the jungle felt very much alive to me. The ecological system felt natural and every twist and turn throughout the jungle made the whole area feel authentic and complex. The jungle definitely felt like a place you did not want to mess around with, especially if you’re not in your own natural habitat. The movie sleekly introduces you to every inch of the jungle and delivers the visuals with so much grace. From the depths where lived Kaa to the kingdom where lived King Louie, every zone had its own life. While it was a live-action movie, the jungle itself seemed like a place that was beyond our world. Maybe it’s the anthropomorphic animals that got me to believe that, but I’d like to think the movie simply succeeded in delivering a magical adventure.
The story was very well told. I mean, with the source material that Favreau has, the end result was definitely brilliant. It was nice that they used foreshadowing, regarding the dead trees, for the finale. With all the explosive events that happen throughout the movie, the odds of remembering that detail for the big battle is quite slim. The conflict that arises from Shere Khan’s threat definitely brings great intrigue to the movie. Watching the animals figure out if the man-cub belonged with them or was to be associated to the evil humans was brilliantly done. After all, most of these animals have lived long enough to know the threat that a grown man-cub can inflict on them. This extra layer of conflict that Shere Khan brings—not even physical, just mental—creates an atmosphere filled with doubt and despair. The whole question ends up questioning each and every animal on their desire to live or to stand together. It’s this fight between individualism (keeping you and your family alive) and collectivism (standing as a united entity living in the same jungle) that can really bring a tear out of viewers!
The Red Flower was also ingeniously brought into the story. Its role in Mowgli’s coming-to-age story was primordial and was executed without flaw. When Mowgli finally finds out the truth behind the faith of Akela, his desire to fix the wrongs that were done, while genuine and good, had devastating repercussions in the end. It’s only after Shere Khan confronts Mowgli and forces him to decide on his fate, between good and bad, that Mowgli’s action show a grown man who isn’t the stereotyped evil-doer. That scene alone was beautiful. But, of course, they had to add the whole Jungle Law into the mix and making this one hell of a solidarity statement. I’m probably a huge sucker for these kinds of scenes. Nothing more breath-taking than seeing
people animals rally together to fight for a cause. I’m really glad that the showdown didn’t end up taking anymore life. I mean, if Baloo had suffered a darker faith, I would’ve hated this movie so much! He’s a bare necessity to all our lives.
On a final note, can we just take a moment to appreciate how well-casted this movie was? Holy Baloo! I’m a huge fan of Idris Elba (I mean, did you see this dude in Luther?) and he ended up being Shere Khan! Now that’s just double-f*king-YES! The charisma, the power and the fear that emanated from Shere Khan thanks to Elba’s voice was just marvelous. I also really appreciated Scarlett Johansson’s voice acting for Kaa. It was a great choice, even if we don’t see Kaa much in the movie. I mean the level of seduction that oozed through Kaa and Johansson’s voice would have gotten pretty much anybody under her spell. That was just brilliantly done. I would’ve loved to have seen what Baloo did of her though. Honey-filled snakeshake anybody? Oh, and Baloo? Godammit. Picking Bill Murray for that job was just brilliant! I’m also really happy about the musical discovery that he brought to Mowgli’s life. That scene was just reinvigorating. King Louie was a big surprise for me. I had so completely forgotten about Christopher Walken being in it, that his voice just made me laugh out of joy and enjoy his singing skills even more. The best part was that King Louie was basically portrayed as a mafia boss and since I have had a lot of seminars on organized crime for the past months, this made me love King Louie and the monkey kingdom so much. Let’s just say that between watching a crazy-cast-filled Tarzan movie and a crazy-voice-cast-filled Jungle Book movie, I’d put my money on Mowgli and friends.